Chapter 15 Summary
There is now a temporary truce agreed upon between the American/British troops led by Munro, leader of Fort William Henry, and Montcalm, the leader of the French army that has surrounded the fort.
During this truce, Major Heyward wanders inside the fort, climbing to the top of the walls and meditating on the calm of nature around the fort, which appears to be unaffected by the bloodshed that awaits him.
While Heyward reflects on this dichotomy, he sees Hawkeye being led through the French troops outside the fort. Hawkeye's head is bent down, as if he is dejected. Hawkeye had been sent to General Webb at Fort Edward to ask for reinforcement troops to assist in defending Fort William Henry. Hawkeye was on his way back to Fort William Henry with a letter from General Webb when he was captured by French soldiers. They stripped Hawkeye of his letter from General Webb and then escorted him back to Fort William Henry in disgrace.
Upon seeing this, Heyward heads for Munro's office but is stopped by Alice and Cora, who were walking toward him. He has not seen the sisters since they all arrived at the fort a few days earlier. Alice teases Heyward for having abandoned them upon their arrival. Heyward teases Alice in return, pretending to be shamed for his negligence. In contrast to her jubilant sister, Cora appears sad or perplexed by some problem, the source of which she does not divulge. She does not join in the teasing.
Heyward excuses himself from the sisters and continues on to Munro's office. Once there, Munro tells him that Montcalm, the officer in charge of the French troops, has requested a meeting with Munro in the field. Wanting to learn the details of the letter that the French took from Hawkeye but not wanting to appear too desperate, Munro asks Heyward to meet with Webb in Munro's name. This is arranged.
Upon arriving at Montcalm's headquarters, Heyward sees several Indian chiefs standing around Montcalm. Among the Indians is Magua, the Iroquois Indian who had held Heyward and the Munro sisters hostage.
Heyward tries his best to show no emotional reaction upon seeing his mortal enemy. Instead he focuses on his mission to discover why General Webb has chosen not to send reinforcement troops to help defend Fort William Henry.
Montcalm proves to be more confident than Heyward thought. Montcalm not only does not provide any hints about the information contained in Webb's letter but he also shows no sign of backing down in his determination to take control of the fort.
Instead, he tells Heyward that Munro should surrender. To do so, Montcalm once again invites Munro to visit the French headquarters, this time in person.